Bobby Berk – the interior designer icon of Queer Eye and once a resident of Denver – teamed up with Figure.com for National Home Improvement Month this May and traveled to Denver as part of his Home Improvement Month Tour. Figure.com is a financial services company that helps people reimagine their financial possibilities through their home equity. The panel, held at Shift Workspaces on Bannock, explored how to improve the value and equity of your home using design and renovation.

Shift Workspaces. Photo by Caroline Miller.

303 Magazine was able to sit down with Bobby and talk about how Denverites can invest in their homes with renovation ideas and design without breaking the bank along the way.

303 Magazine: Prices of homes in parts Denver are increasingly expensive, what advice would you give in terms of making your home an investment?

Bobby Berk: I think being cognizant of the things that add more value to your home and the things that don’t. If you’re renovating it, doing it smart, making sure that you’re renovating things in your home, like a kitchen where you get what you put into it back. Plus some things like bathrooms. So just being smart, you know, you wouldn’t go in and buy crazy stocks that weren’t a good investment and that you wouldn’t get it returned back onto the same with your house. Make sure that the renovations that you do at your house [just crazy things] that you love, that if you ever go to resell, people aren’t going to [say] that’s crazy. Don’t make your house so personal that you can never resell it unless you plan on staying there for life. If it’s your forever home than go crazy however you would want it to be.

303: A lot of our readers are Millennials and first-time homeowners and homebuyers, what are some of the best tips in purchasing your first home?

BB: I just bought my first home in December. We bought ours online with an app — with Redfin — and it was that easy. [I was] laying in the trailer while we’re filming in Kansas City… I would just recommend doing what we normally do, we date online, we book our doctor’s appointments online, we meditate online. Why aren’t you buying your house online? We bought our car online. It takes all the stress out of it. That’s our generation. We’re used to doing things on a computer.

303: What would you suggest that people invest in furniture wise?

BB:  I think something that you should splurge on is your bedding and your bed. You spend so much time in your bed and some of us less than others, but when you go to bed at night, you should stick your head and feet in the sheets and be like ahh, and then when you wake up, you should move your feet in the sheets and be like ahh no one likes scratchy sheets and an uncomfortable bed. That’s where you need to be recharging. So if that’s your first investment you can do invest in good bedding and then a good bed.

303: What are some design tips that first-time homeowners can apply to their space to up their style while adding equity into the home?

BB: Paint goes a long way. You can really refresh a room by just either getting rid of those awful colors that the homeowner before you had or adding some great accent colors of your own. It definitely cleans the place up instantly. [It] makes it look newer and it adds investment… It makes it look newer and fresher. A coat of paint goes a long way and then [with] kitchen cabinets, if you can’t change out the kitchen, paint the cabinets. I mean you’ve seen Queer Eye, six out of eight heroes, I go in and paint the cabinets… That’s a good way to increase the value of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

303: Many people in Denver do not have large homes, what are some tips and tricks on making the most of your space?

BB: Don’t think about your space on one level. Think about it 3D. Think about your space from top to bottom, not just side to side. Make sure you are hanging art, not just up high, but if you’ve got a tall ceiling, stacking two pieces of art on top of each other because it draws your eye up in it. It brings attention to the fact that you have high ceilings and it makes space feel larger. If you’re doing bookcases [use] those Ikea bookcases, those bookcases that we all had, get the attachments that go on the top that make them taller because again, it makes your a room feel taller. Your bedroom, if it’s small, put your bed on those little stilts where you can put drawers underneath or do a bed with drawers underneath. So [again] think about your space from top to bottom, just not side to side and you can utilize small spaces much better and have your furniture do double time.

303: What is it like creating spaces for each of these people you meet during Queer Eye in such little time, while also trying to take their personalities into consideration?

BB: It’s fun. It’s very interesting. It can be stressful sometimes, but it’s funny because most of these people I’ve met have never thought about design as something that can affect their happiness and the way they live in a way that affects their day to day life…  If you wake up in a bedroom that’s chaotic, you start your day out that way and you’re instantly in a rut. If you wake up in the first thing you think of is, ‘oh, I need to do this laundry’ — you start your day off defeated already. So to show them and give them a reset to where they wake up and they’re like, ‘oh, my house is tidy. God, I’m ready to take on the world today because I don’t feel like I already am defeated before I get out of bed.’ That’s very rewarding.

Figure.com is also giving you a chance to improve your home with an Ugly Kitchen contest. You can have the opportunity to win $25,000 to renovate your kitchen by entering a picture of your ugly kitchen here.

All Photography by Caroline Miller.

Note: this interview was shortened and edited for clarity. 

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